If you’re headed to Anaheim this week, take a moment to eat where the locals eat: A small(ish) Southern California-based burger chain called In-N-Out Burger. In-N-Out’s double-double burgers, fries and shakes are loved by residents of the Golden State, a number of gourmet celebrity chefs (Gordon Ramsay and the late Anthony Bourdain, for example) and even the occasional visitor. Here are a few of the ins and outs of In-N-Out:
A simple menu
One big reason In-N-Out has managed to maintain its reputation for quality: It has kept its menu simple. The chain says on its own website: “We only serve burgers, fries and drinks. Making a high-quality hamburger patty is everything to us.”
One potato, two potato…
In-N-Out offers its french fries seven different ways: Regular, light, well-done, light well, no salt, with melted cheese and – most importantly – the local favorite: “animal style.” That means the fries are covered with melted cheese, sauce (fairly similar to Thousand Island salad dressing) and grilled onions.
The chain operated for a decade before founder Harry Snyder began offering fountain drinks. Up to 1958, he had only sold bottled drinks at his In-N-Out stands.
In-N-Out is all about the presentation. Employees wear pressed white uniforms with bright red aprons.
‘A big W’
The crossed palm trees planted in front of many In-N-Out restaurants are a nod to founder Harry Snyder’s favorite movie: the 1963 classic comedy “It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World.”
Long wait times
In-N-Out’s original slogan was “No Delay.” The chain dropped that in 1954 and it would be downright laughable today: rarely will you not wait in line for food at In-N-Out.
David Pring-Mill, of Digital marketing trade website DMNews, writes that the wait time is an intentional part of the In-N-Out strategy: “In-N-Out billboard ads proclaim: ‘No Microwaves, No Freezers, No Heat Lamps.’ When this process of quality assurance is coupled with extreme brand popularity, an epic wait time is created. It’s unavoidable.
“These variables are intertwined. If you reduce quality, you reduce brand popularity. Wait times go down, but so do sales.”
‘Secret’ burger menu
The menu at In-N-Out might seem simple, but the chain makes up for it with what it calls its “not-so-secret” secret menu.
Burgers, for example, come in double meat, triple meat (“3x3”) and quadruple meat (“4x4”). It used to offer unlimited number of patties until 2004, when a customer in an In-N-Out in Las Vegas (naturally) ordered a 100-patty burger. Photos of that epic meal went viral. In-N-Out decided four patties should be enough for anyone.
The chain also offers burgers “protein style” (wrapped in lettuce with no bun) and “animal style” (the patty is cooked in mustard and then smothered in onions).
Where you can find them
In-N-Out has 343 restaurants in six states – but none, so far, in Washington or Idaho.
Sources: In-N-Out, San Francisco Chronicle, BusinessInsider, QSR magazine, DMNews.com, SeriousEats.com, Eater.com, Harvard Business School Digital Initiative, whatupwilly.blogspot.com
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